WPS Racing Prepares For Race-Fit Baird

Businessman Craig Gore's WPS Racing is gearing up for the arrival of race-hardened driver Craig Baird as it prepares to enter its second season in the V8 Supercar Championship Series.

Baird chose to waive the customary new year break to compete in the Porsche GT3 Cup series in New Zealand before flying out to America at the end of the month to compete in the prestigious Daytona 24-hour classic in early February.

Baird then travels back to New Zealand to complete the GT3 season before returning to the Gold Coast to link with WPS Racing's foundation driver, David Besnard, to prepare for his debut drive with the team.

He will have his first hit out for WPS at a test session at Queensland's Willowbank Raceway on February 25, just one week ahead of the V8 Supercar non-championship round at the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne in early March.

Baird will then have his first championship race start for WPS, supported by the Wright Patton Shakespeare financial group, in the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide from March 17-20.

"Between practice, qualifying and racing I have done some huge mileage in recent weeks," said Baird.

"I believe it keeps your mind focused and it will have me well prepared when the V8 Supercar season begins."

Baird said the planned WPS Racing test day in late February will give him the opportunity to get a feel for his new car.

"The test day and the grand prix give me the opportunity to learn about the car and the time between now and then gives me the chance to get to know the team," he said.

WPS has used the off-season to rebuild its two cars, with the work including extensive chassis and engine development programs.

Both cars have also changed numbers, with Baird to race in Car 8 and Besnard in Car 11.

"My expectation going into the 2005 season is to start from the strong platform that WPS finished on last year," said Baird.

"Bezzy had a strong final round where he qualified in the top 10 and placed fourth in one of the races so that is the benchmark from where we start this season."

Baird, who last year drove for Team Kiwi Racing in the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship Series, builds a new layer of experience into the fledgling WPS team.

He has won 16 motorsport championships in New Zealand in categories including karting, formula Atlantic and touring cars.

Baird has had multiple seasons in Australia's V8 Supercar Championship Series, with his highlights including a round win in 2000 at Philip Island, several top 10 finishes in the Bathurst 1000 and a pole position in round seven of the 2004 championship.